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Could This Camera Save You From Taking Clichéd Photographs?

Worried you’re about to snap a boring, generic picture? Camera Restrica will tell you if that shot is something new, or has been done before.

image via

Thanks to the rise in geotagging, photographers now have the power to not only tell a story with an image, but can point others to the exact location where the story took place. What’s more, data-minded observers can use geotagging to look beyond simply where a picture was taken, and instead get a better sense, in aggregate, of what sort of people are interacting with a specific place, and how.

But can geotagging actually make us better photographers, in general? Or, rather, can an understanding of the physical space in which we take a picture ultimately make our pictures suck a little less?

image via

That’s the question behind Camera Restricta, a product concept from designer Philipp Schmitt. The thinking is simple: Many people waste time and energy taking boring or cliché pictures of the same things, without any thought toward creativity or uniqueness. To counter this, Schmitt’s camera would automatically connect with photography sites like Flickr and Panoramio, and count the number of photos taken within a thirty five square meter range of wherever the cameraman or woman stands. The greater the number of pictures taken in that site, the logic goes, the more clichéd any subsequent pictures would be. As Schmitt explains on his website:

If the camera decides that too many photos have been taken at your location, it retracts the shutter and blocks the viewfinder. You can't take any more pictures here.


Frequency of images taken in a specific location is not, admits Schmitt, the sole metric by which the uniqueness of photograph should be judged. But, he writes, “[the camera] might be a good indicator for the potential of taking a special photo at a place.”

Schmitt’s camera, which is created out of a 3D printed body housing a smartphone that provides the data connection, was created to fight what he calls the “overflow of generic digital imagery.” Just how generic is that imagery? To demonstrate what he means, Schmitt has created a brief video overview of a few offending locales:


Beyond his interest in encouraging more unique photography, though, Schmitt’s camera also speaks to ongoing issues around censorship when it comes to taking pictures in certain locales, or of copyrighted material. In this case, he writes, “[i]t's censorship that doesn't happen after, but before a picture was taken.” It’s a scary thought, to be sure, but one made all the more plausible as the world shifts wholeheartedly toward digital photography, and away from film.

For now, though, don’t expect to see Camera Restricta out in the wild anytime soon. Schmitt’s concept design is still just that: A concept.

[via the creators project]

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